Claire Danes doesn’t know what BRB means: normal or sheltered?

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Claire Danes was a guest on Jimmy Fallon earlier this week. She’s currently starring in an off Broadway play in NY with John Krasinski and Hank Azaria called Dry Powder. Of course she’s also on Homeland, which returns for season six in October and is being shot in New York. Claire has a son Cyrus, 3 and a half, with her husband of six years, Hugh Dancy. She told a cute story about how Cyrus wanted to hold an actual bunny for Easter but that he didn’t make this request until Easter morning so she felt like a failure as a mom. (Not her actual words, but she mimed her heart breaking.)

During her interview she talked about how her family likes to make weird, mixed media “avant-garde” Easter eggs and she showed some photos. You can see that video below. They included like, dyed almonds halves stuck on an egg with string wrapped around it. I would never think of that. One Easter I did striped Easter eggs and that was the pinnacle of my craftiness that year.

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She also took a fast “Family Feud” style quiz with Fallon and she didn’t know what BRB meant! That video of Claire doing that Family Feud bit is below but in case you can’t watch it, here are some of the best parts. She swore too and had to be silenced out.

Name the most common text message abbreviation.
Fallon: LOL
[Other top three answers were OMG and BRB]
Danes: [Looks puzzled at BRB] I don’t know that one. I’m really old.

Name something you bring home from spring break
Danes: Homework?
Fallon: Worst Spring Break Ever. Crabs. [That was the top answer: STD]

Who doesn’t know what BRB means? (Update: It’s “be right back” for those of you who had to google it. Sorry I didn’t specify that before!) Does this mean she’s never instant messaged? We’ve been using that abbreviation for well over 20 years. I used it in college and I’m older than Claire. I guess people don’t really text “BRB” much. I used to use IRC (Internet Relay Chat) in the early 90s and we would regularly type “re: username” to welcome people back. I haven’t used chat rooms in decades so when my kid was on Minecraft and I tried to play on a server with him I typed “re: username” to welcome someone back on and people were like “what?” I think they thought I was calling the person a name.

I heard a cute story on NPR about how a lady thought that LOL meant “lots of love” and so she sent messages to people, like someone whose family member died, and signed it off inappropriately LOL. That sounds like a tech legend, like the person who called the computer help line claiming their cup holder (CD player) wasn’t working right.

Here’s the Easter Egg story

And Danes playing fast Family Feud

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80 Responses to “Claire Danes doesn’t know what BRB means: normal or sheltered?”

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  1. LAK says:

    I have a blind spot when it comes to accronyms of any sort. Lol, omg and ok are probably the only ones that have stuck in my brain. It doesn’t help when the same accronym can mean different things eg pm = afternoon, project manager, prime minister.

    Text speak accronyms are beyond me. I had to google brb to know what you meant. I always write my texts in full sentences, words spelt out in full. It takes me forever to read any texts sent in text speak because i have to keep googling them.

    • Nikki says:

      I have 2 problems with acronyms, LAK:
      1) I can’t ever remember the word acronym!
      2) I’m so imaginative, I go on a tangent thinking of possibilities!

      • LAK says:

        And apparently i can’t spell anymore….

        I once worked for a company full of young people who were too clever for their own good, everything was abbreviated or acronyms. So bad was the problem that someone set up an internal website listing frequently used ones.

        Any meetings i attended felt like i had gone back in time to shorthand class!!

      • Landy says:

        Well, lets face it Be Right Back is hardly something you’d write in a text. Definitely in a chat room, IM, but not so applicable in a text.

    • KB says:

      To be fair, I don’t know anyone that texts brb. It was really popular for instant messaging though.

    • detritus says:

      My dad is the exact opposite. He tries to reduce all texts to the smallest possible number of letters. Sometimes they aren’t so universal because he gets things like WTF wrong. Always reminds me of Phil Dunphy

      • Esmom says:

        Haha, I don’t have to watch the clip to know which one it is, one of my favorite Phil Dunphy moments! “WTF — why the face?” Lol.

      • lucy2 says:

        My dad got WTF wrong too. We had a lot of laughs when we realized that one.

    • Lindy79 says:

      BRB was more of an instant messenger thing to indicate you weren’t at the PC anymore. No one uses it on texts etc now because well, you’re phone is pretty much always with you.

      I still fondly but also not fondly remember the first flip phone I had where texts were restricted to a crappy number of characters so you’d find that flashing black box in the middle of a word so would have to read back and see where you could cut down words haha

      people who still do it now though, give me stabby rage. I refuse to read messages in Txt spk

      • KB says:

        I text in full sentences with proper punctuation, spelling, and capitalizations.

      • LAK says:

        Me too KB.

        A couple of years ago, we had an intern who sent out memos in text speak. She didn’t quite understand why this wasn’t appropriate, and when she wrote them without text speak, her spelling and grammer were non existant. Many words were spelt the way she pronounced them. She didn’t last very long.

      • Esmom says:

        Text speak is the worst. I only have one friend who uses it and I just roll my eyes whenever we text.

        LAK, that is horrifying about your intern, I have severe secondhand embarrassment for her. I hope she’s learned her lesson by now, wherever she might be!

      • Brittney says:

        Lindy79, I’m 28 and I still have to trim every text down to 160 characters. I also miss the days of IRC, AIM, and being able to say “brb”…

        Rant time: these days, people treat texts like intrusions that must automatically and immediately be acknowledged. They’re for brief pieces of info that don’t need a whole phone call, damn it!! Stop sending me small talk and expecting me to keep participating. Even if I could text unlimited paragraphs, I wouldn’t want to waste my time doing it on such a small screen. I have a feeling I’ll be fading into the future like an obsolete curmudgeon; resisting this stuff never works, but it will always be too overwhelming and draining to keep my phone on me constantly, or even to receive a text.

      • Lindy79 says:

        Ive no problem with short messages, you’re right that’s what texts are for, but not ones that look like they just sat on their phone and hit send

      • I Choose Me says:

        Add me to the list of people who text and message in full sentences with proper spelling, grammar and punctuation with only the occasional lmao or lmbao thrown in.

      • lucy2 says:

        Text speak drives me nuts too. I’ll occasionally use some, but usually write things out, especially since I often use the voice dictation.
        It’s amazing to me that some younger generations don’t realize that text speak is inappropriate in a professional setting. We’ve had some college interns that didn’t know how to write properly in an email, were terrible on the phone, and had handwriting that even a doctor would shrug at.

      • SydneySnider says:

        I agree with all of you who text in complete sentences, with no abbreviations and using correct grammar and punctuation. I’m very disappointed in my own sister (!) and a few friends who pride themselves on their language skills, yet still use acronyms, abbreviations and rubbish punctuation. Their behaviour makes me judge them, and I make no apologies for doing so.

        Who else, after reading an already-sent text message, finds that one recalcitrant error – ugh! – and immediately sends the corrective text? It’s a habit I refuse to alter.

    • swak says:

      Had to google it also!

      • Christin says:

        So did I. Add me to the list of people who spell out words in texts.

        We have had text type acronyms pop up in business e-mails, and it can be quite confusing. Easier to just write it out.

    • MC2 says:

      I was so embarrassed when I started my career and my first big transaction someone said “what is your ETA?” I just went silent and had no idea what ETA meant. God I felt stupid…..

    • Meghan says:

      I remember about 2007-ish when FTW was a really popular one and I finally broke down and asked my ex-boyfriend what it meant and he had the big sigh and was all “for the win.” Um, okay? How often does a person say for the win that they actually needed to shorten it?

      As for SMH and SMDH it took me forever to figure those out and I much prefer my version, so much hate and so much damn hate. Though those don’t really make much sense, oh well.

    • Chicken Salt says:

      That’s funny, LAK, because I always assumed your username was an acronym for something and wondered what it could be. Guess a was off on that! :-)

  2. Alix says:

    I had to think good and hard before I remember what it stood for. Some people may not see/use it that much.

  3. Dame Snarkweek says:

    How about literate?

    • Kitten says:

      Ha ha..yeah I’m not going to get on her for not knowing that. She’s my age and most people in my age group don’t do text speak and the ones that do I side-eye the hell out of.

      I still remember when I was online dating and this 42-year-old man sent me a message saying “hi hru?”
      Dude couldn’t even be bothered to spell out “how are you?” Yeah BYE.

      • Lizzie McGuire says:

        I still have to google some or ask my sister (she just rolls her eyes at me), I like texting in full sentences. Unless you’re dangling off a cliff & need my help, don’t text me hru, rofl, etc.

        Also my mom thought BRB was short for Bed & Breakfast.

  4. Jess says:

    I’m the same age as Claire and I’ve never once used BRB, I think I know what it stands for, but only because of my 8 year old daughter! I’m so old.

  5. Danielle says:

    I had to look it up.

  6. Nikki says:

    I just had to Google it, and my daughter had to tell me LOL didn’t mean lots of love, because that’s how I was using it. (And I don’t think I made NPR, so I’m sure several folks made the same mistake.). Thanks for making me feel ancient at 60!

  7. Nikki says:

    It’s Be Right Back, friends! 😃👌

  8. Sixer says:

    I know BRB. Sometimes on here someone will use one I don’t know and I have to look it up.

    I have a super-duper LOL anecdote. When he is not busy having inappropriate interactions with the corpses of pigs, our Prime Minister signs off his texts with LOL, thinking it means lots of love. We know this because the question was asked by a QC during the Leveson Inquiry into the hacking scandal. So his interwebz ineptitude was broadcast live to the nation. No wonder we make entire documentaries about the coolness of Barack Obama. The cupboard of cool politicians is bare on this side of the Pond.

  9. Blackwood says:

    I hate using acronyms, they can be very ambiguous, and can cause misunderstandings. Is typing full words considered “too much work” nowadays???

  10. willful ignorance says:

    Never heard of BRB.

    • Astrid says:

      Me neither. I text all the time.

    • Esmom says:

      Me neither. And I text all the time. I generally use full sentences. And feel like a grammar rebel when I don’t use end punctuation! :)

      • GoodNamesAllTaken says:

        My cousin uses ur for you are and u for you when she comments on Facebook and I’m embarrassed for her.

      • Esmom says:

        Yeah, I see a couple people doing that, too. Gah. So cringeworthy.

      • Lol, don’t worry Esmom–when I text I use full sentences except for stuff like lol, omg, and wtf. Other than that, I HATE text talk. Absolutely hate it–especially when I know the person I’m texting (Generally my best friend) is sitting in front of the flipping tv i.e. NOT doing anything………..and STILL sends me a bunch of letters.

    • Elisa the I. says:


  11. Magnoliarose says:

    I’m also a person who rarely uses acronyms. I use the basic stuff: lol, imho, idk but only on blogs and lol more than anything. Brb I had to learn and still find myself translating others all the time. I’m mid thirties so it’s possible not to know it. IMHO

    • Christin says:

      I hardly text (prefer e-mail or phone), but I will spell out words to avoid confusion. On a blog, I do get lax and will use LOL or other hopefully well known shortcuts.

  12. Renee says:

    Didn’t BRB sort of die off with IM? I don’t think I’ve ever sent or received a text with it. Most people just respond when they get a chance.

    • KB says:

      Yeah I think so. A lot of people her age aren’t familiar with it. But I’m 28 and my entire tween and teenage life involved excessive IMing. We lived for that stuff! When we got in a fight with a friend we’d put up away messages that said BRB followed by snarky song lyrics lol

  13. Lindy79 says:

    I do like her but those answers on the game….eek. Like come up with funny answers..homework from Spring Break, I’m not even American and I know that’s a stereoptyical party week, so come up with something funny..

    Taraji P. Henson was hilarious when she played it

    THE DRUGS!!!!

    • KB says:

      I think she meant people party during spring break even though they’ve usually got stuff to work on. A lot of times papers and projects are due right after spring break. But yeah, that’s not where people’s minds go when you say “spring break” so it’s still a bad answer.

    • Tippet says:

      She’s really, really pretentious. Always calling herself an “old soul” and claiming all of her friends were adults when she was a teenager. She strikes me as the type of person who still says “I don’t watch TV” because she thinks it makes her sound thoughtful and deep and shit.

      • teacakes says:

        well, she was a child actor on a show surrounded by a lot of much-older people, so it’s not implausible that she was indeed friends with them as a teenager.

  14. DesertReal says:

    I was a kid on CompuServe, then Netscape, AOL, etc. I remember using those acronyms on ICQ and whatnot. Thats probably the only reason why i know what it means. I text and email mainly but i loathe when adults use that shit.

    • Scarlet Vixen says:

      I hafta admit that I miss AOL & ICQ! I was just thinking the other day about an online friend I had on AIM for about a decade that I never met, but we kept in touch and talked about whatever. In college I ‘met’ all kinds of interesting people on ICQ that I was ‘friends’ with but never physically met. I used to be terribly shy, so I loved the freedom of having great conversations and getting to know new people without having to be live & in person.

  15. Crumpet says:

    I’m old and I still know what it means. We used to use it in bulletin board conversations. Like: “brb, rotflmao”.

  16. Rhiley says:

    Never used BRB in my life, and I am 40. But after looking at the letters for a few seconds I knew what it stands for. Still, why would you text BRB?

  17. nicole says:

    Could someone please explain “woke bae” to me?? No amount of urban dictionary can help me grasp this one. I know it’s not an acronym but it’s bizarre and they use it on this site!

    • Lindsay says:

      Woke means they understand/follow issues relating to social injustice (usually racism and feminist issues)

      Bae is babe

      So on this site I am assuming a hot celebrity male that talks meaningfully (or at least doesn’t sound completely stupid) about feminism, diversity, ect

      • nicole says:

        Thank you! Is it like…woke up to the injustice? I see its used in a headline today.

      • KB says:

        @Nicole I think it is closer to “awake to” than “woke up to”. It’s more of a present tense meaning, they are aware, not that they became aware. This is all makes sense in my head, but I don’t know that it does when I try to verbalize it!

  18. Lisa says:

    David Cameron, British Prime Minister, thought lol meant lots of love.

    • K2 says:

      I was just coming to post that – he used to sign off on messages to Rebekah Wade, Murdoch’s British deputy, with it. Came out in the phone hacking trials.

  19. Darlene says:

    I have an aunt who SWEARS LOL means “Lots of Love” and uses it as such. I’ve corrected her, and she only sent me links to places online where LOL has an alternate accepted meaning of “lots of love”…no matter that I tell her NO ONE thinks it means that when she uses it that way, she persists. She’s in her 70s, if that can excuse it. My mom is almost 80 and she uses it correctly. :D

    • layla says:

      My mother (in her early 60′s) uses LOL as Lots of Love as well. It’s gone on for so damn long now that there’s no way I can even correct her on the usage.

      And yes… she’s posted on Facebook with sympathies to relatives about unhappy life events and signed it with LOL. *cringe

      I think at this point, we all just accept that from her, she means lots of love no matter what the rest of the universe are using LOL for. Haha.

    • Splosh says:

      An elderly friend of mine gave me a kitten she found (I rescue cats), unfortunately after 4 months the kitten escaped and got onto our very quiet road outside and was killed by a car. I text her to tell her and she replied with LOL – she thought it meant that too.

  20. Tris says:

    No idea what BRB is at all. Nor do I care. And I certainly would never denigrate a celeb or anyone for NOT knowing this new ridiculous illiterate shorthand.

  21. chaine says:

    “BRB”– isn’t that what Billy Crudup texted to Mary Louise Parker right before he dumped her for Claire Danes?

  22. paranormalgirl says:

    Yeah, I remember BRB from IRC chat and my addiction to Ridiculist. I never use it in texting, though.

  23. Colette says:

    I have never used BRB in my life.

  24. Micki says:

    I am “sheltered” as well. I never bother to remember acronyms, they’re in vogue for a time and then disappear so it’s poinless for me.
    But it seems lots of people on CB are “sheltered” as well.

  25. PK says:

    Normal … sheltered … hmm.

    Are those our only two choices?

  26. Pandy says:

    I had no idea. I’m with Claire.

  27. elle says:

    When I lived in a duplex in Atlanta, I came home one evening to a message taped to my back door: YOICOFPTSE. From this, I was supposed to glean, “Young opossum in cage on front porch. Take somewhere else.”

  28. nicegirl says:

    Totally funny!! For years, I thought LOL was ‘lots of love’ too. My nephew had to educate me. I’m 41. So, OOOOOLLLLLLDDDD for y’all youngsters.

  29. Amy85 says:

    Based on the comments she’s normal. I’ve never heard of BRB either.

  30. DiamondGirl says:

    I also remember BRB from the chat room days when everyone was sitting at their computers chatting. I’ve never seen anyone text it.

    My young adult son will text me an acronym or an emoji that I cannot understand so I have to respond with “what the Sam Hill does that mean?” I think he does it deliberately : )

  31. Amelie says:

    Oooh brb brings so much nostalgia! Instant messaging on AIM peaked when I was in middle school, dwindled off in high school, and by college I was no longer using it (Facebook had entered the picture by then, my year was the first year you could meet your freshman roommate online on Facebook before getting to campus, it was really exciting back then). I also used MSN messenger (which no longer exists and was acquired by Skype) to talk with my cousins in France since it was way more popular in Europe and learned all the Internet French text speak slang. I went through a phase in which I only wrote in IM/text speak but I outgrew that in high school when I discovered forums and reverted to complete sentences. I guess not everyone outgrows it?

    Now I use mostly Whatsapp and Facebook messaging and some Skype/Facetime when not using text. Oh how the times have changed.